A game filled with twists, turns and drama saw the Westshore Rebels win their B.C. Football Conference opener, 42-34 over the Langley Rams on Sunday at Westhills Stadium.
The Rebels are taking stock of their performance this week as they head toward one of the most emotional games of the season. They host the arch-rival Vancouver Island Raiders this Saturday (July 30) on the Westhills turf for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
First-year Rebels running back Trey Campbell, who thrilled the fans in Langford on Sunday with some electrifying moves as he piled up 112 yards rushing, is excited about the upcoming game.
“I’ve heard the history of the Raiders and the Rebels here, but they haven’t won the battle of the Rock yet (for this season),” the native of Toronto said. “I’m excited for that game to happen under the lights and I hope we’ve got packed stands. It’s going to be a show, so everyone should come out.”
On Sunday the Rebels racked up a 24-point lead by the fourth quarter, then held off a late penalty-fuelled charge by Langley to escape with their first win over the Rams franchise in recent memory.
Buoyed by solid play across the defence, electrifying running by Campbell and fellow newcomer Jamel Lyles and steady play from quarterback Ashton Mackinnon, Westshore turned a 13-7 halftime lead into a 41-17 advantage in the fourth quarter.
Campbell set up Westshore’s last touchdown with a thrilling 55-yard run to the goal line, then dove over for his second TD of the day to make it 40-17. Callum Duke’s fifth convert of the game made it 41-17.
But a rash of penalties, more of which went against the Rebels, helped the Rams gain valuable yardage and make a game of it.
Shortly after Campbell’s touchdown, Rams QB Stephen Legare hit his favourite receiver, Khalik Johnson, in the end zone for a second time during the game. And with less than seven minutes to play, a questionable pass interference call against the Rebels gave the Rams the ball on Westshore’s two-yard line, from which Jordan Fox ran through traffic for a TD.
Their lead having dwindled to 10 points, the Rebels fumbled the resulting kickoff at their own 35 and gave the ball over to the Rams, but limited Langley to a 20-yard Tiernan Docherty field goal that made it 41-34 Westshore.
Having gained momentum, Langley looked primed to score again with just over two minutes to go, as Legare found Johnson wide open downfield. But Rebels defensive back Devon Bell came up with a huge stop, breaking up the pass at the last second, leaving Johnson shaken up on the play.
Then on third down and 15 yards to go, the Langley snap sailed over punter Docherty’s outstretched hands and allowed Westshore to take over on the Rams’ 20.
What appeared to be a sure scenario of at least three points led to just one for the Rebels. The previously sure-footed Duke – he hit field goals of 35 and 25 yards and nailed five converts – missed from just 15 yards out. But the Rams were called for being offside on the play, which gave the Rebels more chances to score.
Quarterback Scott Borden, who replaced Mackinnon after the latter received an objectionable conduct call late in the fourth, ran in what appeared to be a game-clinching TD, but the Rebels were penalized for procedure, leading to another attempt by Duke. He shanked the second try, leaving him visibly frustrated, but the single gave his team an eight-point lead and Langley failed to convert in the final minute.
Watching his team experience highs ranging from a kick-return touchdown by Lyles to the defence hauling in four interceptions, and later seeing their lead evaporate due to undisciplined play, Rebels head coach J.C. Boice admitted there is still work to do with this talented, but raw group.
“We played a very good Langley team and we came out of here with a win, and so I am incredibly proud of these kids,” Boice said. “One thing about these kids is they have clearly shown is they will go to work.”
He expected to start looking at game film of the Raiders that night and said the team would be focusing on “execution on both sides of the ball” in preparation for Saturday’s game.
Boice acknowledged the flood of Rebels penalties that helped the Rams get back into the game in the fourth quarter, calling it “undisciplined” and “not playing smart.”
“It’s typical of a first game. I’d like to say we’re going to get away from that, but we’re going to go to work and we’ll clean things up.”
GAME AT A GLANCE
Westshore Rebels 42 Langley Rams 34
Passing — WS: Ashton Mackinnon, 11/20, 141 yds., 1 TD, 1 interception; LR: Stephen Legare, 20/37, 265 yds., 2 TD, 4 int.
Rushing – WS: Trey Campbell, 11 carries, 112 yds., 2 TD; Mackinnon, 8/101 yds.; Jamel Lyles, 11/68 yds., 1 TD; LR: Ryan Macdonald, 4/67 yds.; Jordan Fox, 4/8 yds., 1 TD
Receiving – WS: Eric Williams, 4 catches/ 57 yds.; Scott Borden, 2/42 yds.; Kain Melchior, 2/28 yds., 1 TD; LR: Khalik Johnson 10/158 yds., 2 TD
Kickoff returns – WS: Lyles, 3/197 yds., 1 TD
Defensive leaders – WS: Bryon Mackinnon, 3 tack., 2 assists, 2 sacks, 1 block kick; Shaun Robinson, 6 tackles, 1 int.; Brody Uddenberg, 4 tack.; Juslin Makambo, 2 tack., 4 asst., 1 int.